The university application process may seem relatively quick, and easy, but it can actually take a lot  longer than you think - especially if you’re an Indian applicant (you’ll have to factor in the extra time needed to write certain entrance tests, for example).  If you’re unlikely to have all of your required documents ready for the September intake deadline, it’s advisable to aim for the January intake. Prepping well in advance is always better, and can help keep any disappointments at bay!

To get started, create a step-by-step schedule of all the tasks you’ll need to complete. For your ease we have listed out key milestones and deadlines to remember in order for you to complete your application on time.

18 Months Before Intake : Making Big Decisions

For Indian students this decision-making phase should start in the middle of Junior college’s first year. You’ll need to ask yourself if moving abroad for your studies is the right fit for you; What will you gain? What challenges might you encounter? What is the ideal location for you? All of this, and more will need to be thought through before you take this big step. Financing your studies is another big question. Are you going to be self-financed? Or will you need a scholarship? If you’re looking for a student loan, then SchoolApply along with Credila, are here to give wings to your big dreams.

You may have to consider looking up Pathway courses primarily, just in case your Indian junior college (10+2) credits are not transferable to universities abroad. Pathways can work very well in bringing you up to par on both undergraduate, and graduate levels.

Moving on to the next step you will need to search for schools that meet all your requirements including location, interests etc. Pro tip: Look for universities and courses with promising long term career benefits after graduation. Shorten your list to the top 6-8 universities that best match your interests. After that, ensure that you collect enough information to facilitate preparations for their unique application processes and requirements.

10-12 Months Before Intake: Be Well Prepared!

Now that you’ve jotted down a list of universities you’re interested in applying to, make sure you highlight their application deadlines. Deadlines may vary from school to school, and could be up to ten months before the school term even begins! This phase should be ongoing while indian students commence Junior college’s second year. Expect cut-throat competition in terms of admission for some schools, and prepare in advance since many schools take quite some time to process applications.

Depending on the level of study and course of your choice, you may also have to appear for entrance tests, for instance, to qualify for admission to graduate business programmes, students need to take the GMAT test. Additionally, Indian students wanting to study abroad will be required to prove their English language proficiency through either an IELTS or TOEFL test. Many licensed professional institutes administer these entrance tests, so be proactive and register yourself to start preparing for these tests, well in advance. While these institutes can help you with study materials to get started, you can also opt for the guidance of a tutor to increase your chances of acing these tests. Remember, victory loves preparation and the rewards you’ll reap will be completely worth it!

Apart from filling in the application forms, you’ll be asked to write a personal statement, and submit the official transcripts from your most recent junior college. In some cases attested copies, along with references from your teachers, or mentors will also be required. Approach your schools examination board to learn the official result declaration date. In line with this, make sure to provide for the extra buffer time it will take to get these necessary documents in hand.

Your visa application is another thing you’ll need to get a head-start on! Thoroughly read the process guidelines to know exactly what documents you’ll need to be ready with in advance, as this will allow you to apply for a student visa as soon as you’ve been accepted into a programme.

4-7 Months Before Intake: Crunch Time

By this time, the final semester of junior college sets in across most Indian colleges, and alongside this you’ll need to complete and send across your applications and pay the application fees. Be informed that application deadlines for January intake period are usually around October or November, but make sure you find out the exact dates for your chosen college. Take the entrance exams and arrange for an admissions interview if possible, as this can make you stand out from the rest of the applicants.

3 Months Before Intake : Follow ups

By this stage you’ll have completed your junior college in India, and will need to start following up on the status of your January intake application. If you’re fortunate enough to have been accepted into more than one college, you’ll have to select the best spot. Once you’ve done that, you can dive into the student visa application process. This usually involves a visa interview, so make an appointment as early as possible!

Congratulations!

Congratulations on your acceptance! But, don’t forget - you’ve still got a couple of things to sort out before you celebrate. Things like possible accommodation options and how to get there still need to be determined! Whichever accommodation option you decide to choose, the earlier you make arrangements, the better your chances of securing a great home-away-from-home. Finally, book your flight in advance to avoid air fare hikes at the last moment!

Still haven’t decided where you want to go? Check out our university listings, and get that application ball rolling!

About the Author: Tessa Cunliffe is a South African based digital copywriter and marketer, with a passion for travel and learning. Yoga-inspired and coffee-fuelled. Always planning the next adventure.

Co-AuthorMustafa Sutarwala, originally from Mumbai, India lives in the UAE and studied marketing in Dubai. He currently works as the creative Ninja for SchoolApply's content team.